Monthly Archives: July 2014

Welcoming the stranger

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Today a group of junior youth from Stouffville visited Parkdale. Together, we did some cleaning in one of the spaces that we use throughout the week, bought some more plants for our garden plot, and talked about what The Dale is/does/stands for. And then we split into groups and walked around the neighbourhood.

As we walked, the group I was with was greeted by folks from the community, who welcomed these young people to Parkdale. A number of times, community members invited these new friends to come to our lunch on Monday. When the youth explained that they live in Stouffville, folks responded with something like “well, you’re always welcome!”

I love that this group was able to come and lend a hand at The Dale today. The cleaning needed to be done, the plants needed to be planted, and the water that was handed out needed to be consumed. And I REALLY love that this group experienced the warm hospitality of this community. The folks of The Dale reminded me and this group what it’s all about: welcoming the stranger.

 

welcome to pdale

We’re back!

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We’re back from camp! Thanks so much to everyone who donated, prayed, and came along for the trip!

The three nights and four days that we spent up at Camp Koinonia were doused with blessing. We were also doused with rain for most of Tuesday and part of Wednesday, but people didn’t let that stop them from enjoying their time out of the city. When it wasn’t raining there were early morning “Polar bear” dips, strolls around the property, fishing off the dock, canoeing around the lake, jumping on the trampoline, throwing of frisbees and footballs, soccer games, archery lessons, and trips to the tuck shop. When it was raining there were many games of ping pong and Pictionary, lots of reading and card playing, art and puzzle making.

Our group was larger than either of the last two trips up to camp- close to 40! And we were diverse, in terms of age and life circumstance. Our youngest was two and a half, and our oldest was into his seventies.

Here are a few verbal snapshots of our time together:

– On the way north, an artistic community member marveling at the beauty of the rock cuts along Highway 400

– A tough-looking, couch-surfing member tossing footballs, blowing bubbles and playing ping pong with the kids in the group, and being blown away when told by the littlest one that he is loved

– a dear member setting aside dinner for another one who slept through meal time (he could have gotten it from the kitchen, but she kept some aside specifically for him)

– many of the teenaged camp staff members sitting and jamming with two of our musicians

– a game of charades with an unlikely combination of folks

– a community volunteer who works very hard during our meal drop-in (ie. I’ve never seen him sit for longer than 30 seconds at a time), falling asleep while reading a book in the camp lodge, surrounded by other folks laughing, chatting and playing ping pong

– sitting around the campfire, eating s’mores, and spotting fireflies and constellations

– a community member cooking a traditional Guyanese stew for everyone to enjoy as an evening snack

– sharing times of prayer each morning and evening, and bearing witness to faith-filled prayers from a member experiencing deep and fresh grief

– On the way south, a relatively new community member saying that the trip was a good chance to “clean out my head, you know what I mean?”

I do know what she means! Thank you again for helping to make this trip such a blessing to so many of us.

 

Camp Koinonia 2014